Hey everyone! My name is Isabella DeMarco and I am a Sophomore here at IU studying International Studies and Environmental and Sustainability Studies. I joined the Critical Food Studies lab this January 2021 and have really enjoyed getting to know other individuals passionate about the intersection of food and social justice.
At the beginning of Fall 2020 I was admitted into the Sustainable Scholars program run out of the IU Office of Sustainability. I was assigned to a project working alongside the amazing faculty members, Dr. Angela Babb, Dr. Julia Valliant, and Dr. Kurt Waldman, all affiliated with Sustainable Food Systems Science. Our project is designing an antiracist research platform to study racial equity within the Indiana agricultural system.
Although the project is constantly evolving, we intend to produce an annotated bibliography and a collection of pilot interviews with African American farmers in Indiana. The annotated bibliography will include a list of literature on the historical and present day experiences of BIPOC farmers in Indiana. The pilot interviews seek to decipher what is being left out of research on Black farmers in Indiana, and also give us insight into what needs to happen in future research regarding the topic.
As expected, the annotated bibliography process has been less fruitful than we would have hoped. Using the PSALSAR literature review method, we have found that many sources available on search engines such as Google Scholar, ProQuest, the Indiana University Libraries and many other databases do not specifically address our research topic. There is literature on racial discrimination within the United States agricultural system as a whole; however, few sources focused on this issue in Indiana exists.
This notion has been brought up in the pilot interviews with Black farmers from around the state. We have currently interviewed five farmers, and each have echoed the claim that there is a severe lack of research into racial discrimination of BIPOC farmers in Indiana. Although the research community may not yet be aware of or acknowledge the underlying issues these farmers have faced in the past and are still facing now, every individual I spoke with is involved with one or more projects promoting BIPOC individuals and communities in agriculture.
Owning land and farming for these African American individuals serves a form of resistance and resilience. Learning about these individuals farming stories has been incredibly enlightening and uplifting, but it also underlines the crucial need for their stories to be heard and the oppressive system to be changed and exposed. I look forward to continuing to learn more about how research can contribute to addressing this need for justice.